I worry that I’m a bad friend.
I used to drop everything for other people. I would help them, provide constant external validation, offer hope in any way I knew how. I burned out at one point, badly, but I’d still do my best, and it helped people. I helped people move towards self-reliance and pursue fewer destructive relationships and… and…
Yesterday a friend who I care deeply about wanted external validation, but she lives far away from me and I’d have had to use public transportation and I already had plans that night and I just couldn’t bring myself to drop everything and go over there. I think, perhaps, it’s that I know she’s just using me as a step up from where she’d otherwise get validation, but isn’t actually learning to provide it for herself. My offers of hope over IM or phone didn’t do anything; she only wanted me in person. I know that she wants validation, but if the only way you can accept it is if someone is there with you every second… I’m scared of the precedent it’d set.
At the same time, I worry that now she doesn’t think I care about her. That she’ll turn to more destructive modes of validation. That she will keep finding people who will drop everything in order to validate her, but want lots in exchange or are Not Okay themselves, and that I could have prevented it and maybe done better.
She also never actually asked. She strongly implied, and got ever so slightly annoyed when I didn’t respond, but she never just said “I want you to come over.” I don’t know that it would have changed anything, and so maybe it is better this way (since the answer would have been “No”, which would make her feel more rejected), but it’s still just passive-aggressive enough to set me off and she still felt rejected and neglected. But saying things to the effect of, “no one cares about me” is basically an ultimatum, and I hate ultimatums.
So today I’m feeling really crappy. I know that she can not actually be my responsibility, and the fact that I have work and therapy and them am leaving on vacation aren’t really negotiable. But I know what she needs, and I can’t give it to her. It makes me feel like a failure, and I worry that she thinks I am too. Even if when she comes out of it she can understand why I did what I did, right now I’m pretty sure she does.